Stanley and Robert weren’t afraid of Malaria. Grey heads close, one darker, one lighter, they shovelled and heaved and pushed. They are strong healthy men. Stanley would tell you it’s because he regularly eats Moringa powder. I’ve got him stored in my phone under ‘Stanley Moringa’.
We’ve been asking to see his farm. He’s got over 700 Moringa trees, from which he makes a good quality powder to sell to the wealthier Zambians. Until now he’s kept up with demand. He charges 50,000 kwachas (4,700 kwachas equal Cdn$1) for 100 grams of dried powder. On the label it says: gram for gram of Moringa leaf powder contains 7 times the Vitamin C in oranges, 4 times the Vitamin A in carrots, 4 times the Calcium in Milk, 3 times the Potassium in bananas, 3 times the iron in spinach, and 2 times the protein in milk. Moringa has often been touted as Africa’s answer to malnutrition. It could well be that.
But Stanley doesn’t just produce Moringa. He has two plots of maize and three of groundnuts (peanuts), some beans and sweet potatoes. He grows more groundnuts than maize, because he says people don’t steal them.
He’s a good farmer, it’s easy to see. We drove past many fields on the way. Too many were yellow, and obviously struggling – planted too late. “And they always plant on the same place,” Stanley laments. Stanley’s healthy maturing maize is rotated with legumes.
This is the second year he’s growing maize using conservation farming (CF) methods. Last year he grew one lima – a quarter hectare. He says he harvested two tonnes from it. That equals eight tonnes per hectare – a good yield even for a big commercial farmer. The average small scale Zambian harvests one tonne per hectare.
The success was enough to convince him to grow all his maize that way. This year he grew one lima of local maize – using his own local seed, not a hybrid – and fertilizing it with cow dung, and a little urea as top dressing. That’s his nicest crop. He wanted some pictures to show his cooperative what can be done with little means.
We noticed how weed free his local maize was. Stanley sprayed it with Atrazine when it was still small. Robert says they used to spray with Atrazine in Switzerland, until it was forbidden because they found traces in ground water…
This man cares as much about empowering others with health and knowledge, as he does about doing a good job himself. He’s very happy that one of his workers decided to grow his own maize using CF.
Robert bought two jars of Moringa powder. Next time he won’t need a shovel – he’ll lift that truck right out!